AGM 2016: Draft Minutes

18 April 2016

Held at 8.30pm at the Durning Library, 167 Kennington Lane SE11 4HF

1. Welcome and Introduction.

Priscilla Baines, Chairman, welcomed those attending the meeting, which was preceded by a talk from Susanna Barnes, Head of Lambeth Libraries, about what was happening to libraries both nationally and locally, and what was needed to improve the Durning and secure its future. A summary of the talk appeared in newsletter 70 of June 2016.

Setting the scene for Susanna’s talk and the following meeting, Priscilla said that, when Susanna had spoken to us before the 2015 AGM, there were many uncertainties about the outcome of the Cultural Services by 2020 proposals, for which the public consultations were then due to end.

We were once again having to fight for the Durning’s survival while the service as a whole faced serious cuts in resources that threatened many of its operations. Lambeth finally decided in early March, as we and the TSL Friends had suggested, that both libraries should stay open for the time being as joint ‘town centre libraries’ for north Lambeth, while the plans for a new library would be pursued in the longer term.

FoLL had also campaigned against other consequences of the cuts, especially the proposals for handing over the Carnegie and Minet library buildings to Greenwich Leisure Limited to become healthy living centres, with small unstaffed library areas. Following that campaign, some of Lambeth council’s decisions about its library service, particularly about the Carnegie and Minet, had very recently been referred to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to decide whether the council was complying with the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act. We did not yet know the implications of that referral but understood that it did not affect the position of the Durning and TSl, so the committee would therefore continue to support appropriate FoLL initiatives that would preserve as much of the library service as possible. In the interim, our priority had to be what could be done to make the Durning’s future as good (and therefore as secure) as possible.

The Options Appraisal exercise completed last June suggested a major refurbishment of the front of the building including providing proper disabled access as well as income-generating use of the former librarians’ residence above the main building. ‘The tree’ had gone but much structural and other work was urgently needed to secure the building’s future. We were now pressing the council to get on with this as some limited capital was available.

2. Apologies for absence.

Apologies from committee members Veronica Ledwith and Val Parker as well as 5 other members.

3. Minutes of the 2015 AGM

Minutes of the AGM held on 20 April 2015 were accepted as a true record. Proposed by …….., seconded by………and agreed nem con.

4. Chairman’s Report.

Dale Arndell’s second year in post as Durning manager had been tough for him, as well as for the rest of the staff. They still faced yet another staff restructuring following the latest closures but they must be even more relieved than we that the Durning’s future was secure for the time being. We continued to enjoy working with Dale and to benefit from his support for the Friends, thanking also those Durning staff who had baby-sat our events during the year.

Otherwise, on behalf of all our members, thanks to the committee for their collective hard work. It remained a real team effort, as was obvious at our monthly talks.

We also needed to thank our former committee member, Laura Swaffield, for being such a doughty fighter in all she had done as chair of the Friends of Lambeth Libraries (FoLL). She had spent the whole year and more in full campaigning mode and Lambeth libraries were all grateful for the persistence, energy and knowledge of the public library world that she had deployed on our behalf (and continued to do so).

Thanks again to Frank Bornemann for wrestling with the sound system and PowerPoint presentations, to Gordon and Jill Johnston for continuing to run the bar so efficiently, including managing our supplies of drink, and Margaret Clinch for her unfailing production of flowers for our talks. Naomi Lourie Klein has continued to help with our website, so thanks to her as well. Thanks to all the other members and attenders who helped so willingly with clearing up and to the former committee members who helped out with the bar and other tasks when required. Thanks to Sylvia Goodman for her efficient organisation of the delicious food and to both long-standing and new members of the food teams for their much-appreciated wonders.

We were always seeking volunteers to help with the food. Being a member of one of the teams was not a big task so, if anyone was willing, please contact Sylvia.

Our e-mail distribution list allowed electronic distribution of our newsletters which saved both the cost of copying and postage and a lot of time. It also enabled us to issue reminders of our events which kept up attendance. If members were not already on the e-mail list and were happy to receive communications by that means, please send an e-mail or tell any committee member your e-mail address.

There being no questions, Bob Goodrick proposed and Evelyn Butler seconded the adoption of the report, which was carried nem con.

5. Treasurer’s Report and accounts.

Priscilla thanked Jeremy for his continuing careful stewardship of our funds and measured contributions to committee discussions, also for deputising for her at various meetings. Thanks also to Tony Clinch for undertaking the annual independent examination of our accounts.

Jeremy said that the accounts presented a positive and familiar picture, although we welcomed a new stream of income from Cathy Preece’s sale of old books etc, which had led to an increase in our available funds. We had not spent much in the last couple of years because of the uncertainties facing the Durning, but were looking forward to contributing towards enhancing the library’s efforts. There was no need to increase the current levels of subscriptions and contributions to events. There being no questions, Peter Cheek proposed and Frank Bornemann seconded the adoption of the treasurer’s report and accounts, which was carried nem con.

6. Election of Chairman and Committee.

Priscilla reminded the meeting that last year she had given what was fully intended to be a final warning that she would stand down this year after 11 years. We had all hoped that there would still be a functioning library in the Durning with a reasonably secure future. She, and other committee members, did not feel that they could seek replacements or stand down while the future was so uncertain. The timing of the announcement on 5 March was not of their choosing and the committee had agreed unanimously, if somewhat reluctantly, at their last meeting that it had come too late for any of them to desert the ship at this AGM.

The Friends should have a vital role in helping to shape the Durning’s future but they should be led from the front by a younger generation of library users who were more familiar with modern technology. She asked members to note that, although she and all her colleagues on the committee were offering themselves for re-election, it was with every intention that, before autumn, at least some of them would bow out.

Priscilla moved out of the chair for the election of the chairman and Kay Coombs took the chair for that part of the meeting. She underlined the Friends’ gratitude to Priscilla, noting especially the enormous number of meetings she had attended this last year. Jill Johnston proposed and Julie Tisdall seconded Priscilla’s re-election as Chairman, which was carried unanimously.
Priscilla then resumed the chair and repeated her thanks to the whole committee. The following members of the Committee offered themselves for re-election: Elizabeth Barrott, Ruth Briant, Kay Coombs, Veronica Ledwith, Jeremy Orme, Val Parker and David Tisdall. Gordon Johnston proposed and Sylvia Goodman seconded the proposal, which was carried nem con. Priscilla thanked everyone present for the re-election and support.

7. Any other Business

There being no other business, the Chairman thanked everyone for attending and the meeting closed at 8.45pm.

Kay Coombs
Hon Secretary
May 2016